Covid Lockdowns and Elderly Suicide

“Ninety-year-old Nancy Russell had already been planning to use the MAiD law [Canada’s euthanasia law, Medical Aid in Dying] ‘at some point,’ according to her daughter, Tory. But having experienced full lockdown of her nursing home, including a two-week confinement of residents to their rooms, followed by bans or tight restrictions on visitors that made socialization impersonal, she knew what was coming with this second round of lockdowns and didn’t want to live through it. Russell’s death comes at a time of increased loneliness and isolation for residents of senior care homes amid repeated lockdowns and isolation in the name of protecting them. Dr. Susan Woolhouse, a member of the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers, told CTV News that the lockdowns are ‘accelerating’ requests for assisted suicide. Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Alex Schadenberg reports that more than 6,000 assisted deaths were reported in Ontario from mid-June 2016 through October 2020, and nearly a third of those deaths (1,948) were in 2020 alone. It is, of course, undeniable that the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths are among the elderly. In Ontario, 2,234 long-term care residents have died of COVID-19 to date, almost two-thirds of their total coronavirus deaths (3,519). While Toronto and other parts of North America go into lockdown this holiday season, however, we would do well to reflect on the toll isolation takes on the elderly. For those who are old and frail, socialization with friends and family is one of the few joys that remain. While COVID-19 can be dangerous to the old and frail, those who are so concerned about protecting the elderly shouldn’t reduce ‘protection’ to a negative COVID-19 test and a pulse, lest they quash what makes life worth living. We should heed the voices of those most deeply affected by lockdowns and restore their right to decide how they want to spend their few remaining years, despite the risk.”

“A 90-Year-Old Woman Killed Herself to Avoid Another Covid-19 Lockdown,” The Federalist, Nov. 25, 2020